The family of a 6-year-old boy who was killed in a 2012 motor vehicle accident was awarded $32 million last month by a Pittsburgh jury. The jurors agreed that Golon Masonry Restoration Inc., a commercial contractor based in the city, was independently liable for the actions of a company driver who was convicted of vehicular homicide. The jury found that the company should be held accountable after driver Kirk Fair, who Plaintiffs alleged was under the influence of prescription painkillers, crashed a company-issued pickup truck into the back of a car that had just broken down along a highway outside of Pittsburgh.
Because of mechanical problems, Timothy Straw was forced to bring his vehicle to a stop in a travel lane along the highway. Traveling behind the Straw vehicle was the company-issued pickup truck driven by the company’s employee. Fair’s truck slammed into the back of Straw’s car after the truck driver became distracted picking up several items that had fallen from the seat onto the floor. The crash resulted in serious injuries to Straw, his wife, and one of his two children. Sadly, the couple’s other child, 6-year-old Elijah Straw, was killed.
Fair pled guilty last February to vehicular homicide, four counts of reckless endangerment, and two counts of speeding. The guilty plea resulted in the court automatically finding Fair had been negligent in the Straws’ civil case, leaving the jury only to consider whether Golon Masonry could be found vicariously or directly liable for the injuries in the crash. The jury found that Golon Masonry was negligent for having entrusted the pick-up to its employee (Fair), whose personnel file included a prior citation for driving under the influence. Any DUIs, under a company policy, would preclude employees from using company vehicles. This was an obvious violation of that policy.
The jury’s finding of direct negligence by Golon Masonry made the company entirely responsible for the award of damages. The Straws are represented by Jon Perry of Rosen Louik & Perry PC, who did a very good job for his clients. The case is in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Penn.